This Private Jet-Sharing Startup Is Vying to End the Woes of Air Travel: Aero CEO Q&A

Los Angeles-based Aero provides bespoke, hassle-free option to fed-up air travelers.

Aero CEO Ben Klein
Aero CEO Ben Klein earned his pilot’s license at 18. Aero

As the quality of commercial air travel continues to deteriorate, from the nearly customary delays, cancellations and shrinking amenities to sometimes faulty planes falling apart while airborne, a Los Angeles-based startup called Aero seeks to alleviate the travel woes experienced by so many passengers by offering a bespoke, hassle-free option. Founded in 2021, the company allows passengers to book seats aboard a 16-seat semi-private jet to luxury destinations. Think Uber for jetsetters with amenities catered to its guests’ special needs. 

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Aero CEO Ben Klein said that the company’s level of service harkens back to the golden age of aviation. Klein’s passion for air travel runs deep. He earned his pilot’s license at age 18 and previously led an aviation regulatory practice as a lawyer before joining Aero as general counsel in 2021. Shortly after taking up the role of CEO, nine months ago, Klein flew a service from the company’s private terminal in Van Nuys, Calif. to Aspen, Colo. alongside Captain Ryan Freeman. Aero currently flies to Aspen, Los Cabos and Sun Valley, Idaho. And yes, pets are always welcome aboard. 

Observer recently spoke with Klein about the challenges facing the air travel industry, including fuel and labor costs and regulatory uncertainty, and how Aero’s unique advantages help it navigate the ever-changing industry climate. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Observer: As Aero scales, what precautions are being made to ensure the company avoids going down the same path of major air carriers in terms of service and experience?

Ben Klein: We’re not growing willy-nilly or just for the sake of it. We’re making sure that the service we’ve developed in Los Angeles is good and that we have the right processes and team in place. So when it comes time to expand, we can make sure that we do maintain that really high experience standard that we’re known for. 

(The gauge used to measure customer satisfaction and overall brand sentiment for air travel is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and is based on customer surveys that ultimately beckon the question of “how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” based on a scale of zero to 10. Aero averaged an 88 NPS in 2023 compared to an overall industry average of 27. In 2024, Aero is averaging an NPS score of 92.)

The public seems to be seeing a growing slew of unpleasant scenarios in the news about flying major commercial airlines. Has Aero seen an uptick in business due to fed-up travelers?

Whether you’re flying first class or economy, there are certain things you can’t avoid with a commercial airline experience. And I think people are becoming fed up with a general lack of customer service.

To address that, Aero features a 24/7 concierge to take calls and guests only need to arrive at our private lounge in Van Nuys 20 minutes ahead of their flight, allowing them to avoid any lines and crowds. We have top-of-the-line catering on all flights, including a premium bar and a wine partnership with Wally’s here in Los Angeles. So, I think it’s all those things that don’t really exist anymore in the airline world, even in first class that make Aero stand apart. 

Since our launch in early 2021, Aero’s business has grown 286 percent, serving roughly 500 customers monthly, with some travelers booking multiple trips. Aero is also on target to achieve continued revenue growth in 2024 by launching new routes from Los Angeles, flying to special entertainment and sporting events and offering more charter services.

The workforce of the airline industry are subject to policies decided by corporate executives behind closed doors. You, along with others on Aero’s leadership team, are licensed pilots. How does that unique understanding of the business affect your management of the company?  

Aero is passionate about aviation and I think that’s reflected in our leadership. I fly as a first officer, and our COO is also type rated in the ERJ135 and serves as a captain. I think it would be hard to find another air carrier where you could say the same in terms of leadership of the company. It allows us to really understand the operation in a way that is hard to do if you’re not intimately involved. We also interact with our guests and we really get to understand the guest experience in the way that our front-line teammates do. It just helps keep us really knowledgeable about the business. We’re in it. At the end of the day, it’s really about flying airplanes safely.

Air travel produces a fair amount of C02 emissions globally every year at roughly 2 to 3 percent annually. What, if any, initiatives is Aero setting forth to offset its carbon footprint? 

There’s no doubt that flying airplanes burns fossil fuel. There are a number of things that we’re looking to do at Aero in terms of trying to mitigate that. For example, we manage our fuel use very closely and we don’t run our engines excessively while on the ground. We also offset all of our carbon emissions through 4AIR. (4AIR is a sustainability solution partner that provides a framework to offset and reduce carbon emissions produced by the aviation industry.) So for our scheduled service, we offset all of our carbon emissions in partnership with them, providing them with our list of flights every quarter and they buy Corsia eligible offsets on our behalf. Offsets are not perfect, that’s for sure. But it’s something we can do now. And we don’t ask our guests to pay for that.


Correction: An earlier version of this article contained inaccurate descriptions of Aero’s NPS scores and certain executive titles. 

This Private Jet-Sharing Startup Is Vying to End the Woes of Air Travel: Aero CEO Q&A